NXT Nutritionals, developer of SUSTA brand alternative sweetener and Healthy Dairy yogurt smoothies, announced November 19 that it had entered into a deal with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Naval Academy to offer its products to cadets, professors and active military personnel. The initial rollout of SUSTA and Healthy Dairy products at the naval academy, slated for December 2010, will be made available to around 5,000 customers daily. In January the company expects to launch its brands into Navy bases and ships asea, a market of approximately 340,000 active personnel. Health Dairy yogurts have also been approved as part of the Navy's Standard Core Menu, reflecting a growing interest among military decision makers for easy, replacement solutions to enhance nutrition in the diet of U.S. troops.
As the military accepts nutrition products that promote healthy body weight, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) has simultaneously argued for the potential benefits of fish oil on soldiers' cognitive function. In a recent interview with NutraIngredients-USA.com, GOED's executive director Adam Ismail spoke of rising suicide rates among U.S. troops as an impetus for the military to incorporate fish oil—which may have an impact on depression—into the diets of personnel in high-stress situations. "There are a lot of observational studies that show there's a correlation between increased omega-3s and a reduced risk of suicide," said Ismail. "There's limited human evidence, and more needs to be done, particularly in a military population." Research into the effects of nutrition on cognitive function is still a fledgling operation, so it will take a lot more stumping and science to get a fish oil capsule in every knapsack.
NBJ Bottom Line
With an annual budget surpassing $700 billion, the U.S. military represents an undeveloped and open market for the nutrition industry, as well it should be, given the opportunities to meaningfully impact our soldiers' health and well-being with better ingredient and supplement choices. In an environment where physical fitness is paramount, dietary supplementation could play well into the soldier's daily regimen. NXT is about to add nearly 350,000 potential customers into its fold by offering a yogurt product that is a perfect fit for the military diet—high in protein and low in fat. Were the Department of Defense to provide every soldier a tailored multivitamin every morning, healthy troops and good business could go hand in hand.
NBJ has heard from several sources that appealing to the military is often an effective way for the nutrition industry to have its voice heard on Capitol Hill. Besides offering potential solutions to the problems of obesity, diabetes and suicide among military, veteran and related populations, the work of industry players such as NXT and GOED also functions as especially potent political currency for nutrition industry lobbyists and trade associations looking to have their say in Congress.